NEWSLETTER
Get ADV Pulse delivered by email
Sign up for ADV Pulse Weekly

Newsletter

Get ADV Pulse delivered by email
Sign up for ADV Pulse Weekly

Connect With Us

Follow Us On Facebook:

ADV ProductsSkid Plate Skirmish: Touratech RallyeForm vs. Black Dog Ultimate

Skid Plate Skirmish: Touratech RallyeForm vs. Black Dog Ultimate

 Two big names in the industry go head-to-head with their latest skid plates.

Published on 11.16.2018

Engine armor is doomed from birth. It will be scraped, bashed and bludgeoned so the precious power plant can live on. The question is, how long can it stand up against the barrage of rocks, ledges and downed trees attacking our engine before its life blood starts to flow?

Two top contenders in the marketplace are Black Dog and Touratech. Both companies offer proven designs with thousands of loyal followers.

Adventure Motorcycle
Both Touratech (left) and Black Dog (right) are significantly larger than the stock skid plate.

Touratech RallyeForm

Touratech’s newest RallyeForm skid plate is touted as possessing some of the best in modern construction technology. A hydroforming process is used to cold stamp 4mm sheet aluminum with a half million pounds of liquid pressure, pressing it into a complex, three-dimensional, Art Deco-like shape that drapes a host of delicate parts like a gossamer dress. Previously, only certain plastic molding processes have produced anything so elegant in the belly armor department.


ADVERTISEMENT

The forming process “changes the crystalline structure of the material resulting in a tougher shell for better resistance to denting,” according to Touratech. No welds are required, which they say reduces the chance of cracking. They also point out that the smooth curves allow the skid plate to more easily drag through sand and over rough terrain.

Touratech covers more of the exhaust but leaves the clutch cover “chin” area vulnerable. Also note the narrow gap between front of the plate and bottom of clutch cover.

The RallyeForm uses three mounts to attach to the engine and frame. The forward mount retains two of the original holes (and bolts) to fasten a well-refined, crushable aluminum bracket. Three more original bolts mount the factory center bracket to the sump beneath the engine. Finally, a complex two-piece bracket mounts to the cross frame tube above the catalytic convertor and receives a single screw through the skid plate. All three brackets must be indexed perfectly for the plate to mount. An interim plate resides between the center and front two mounts, helping distribute impact forces across the entire assembly. Six Torx screws attach the skid plate, five from beneath and one on the upper rear tail section. Individual replacement parts are available from Touratech.

Touratech Rallyeform skid plate
Touratech’s RallyeForm withstood repeated hammering over Ophir, Tincup and Hancock Passes in Colorado.

Black Dog Ultimate Skid Plate

Black Dog skid plates are constructed of 5052 aluminum and measure 4.8mm, nearly 25% thicker than the RallyeForm and at 10.7 lbs, about as much heavier. The latest iteration, the Ultimate Skid Plate 2.0, is slimmer and sleeker than the previous versions used on the pre-2013 R1200GS. Its one-piece design extends past the catalytic converter, offering a perfectly flat bottom with no obstructions. Two robust, 8mm, flush head bolts secure the front, and two identical bolts enter horizontally above the line of fire from rocks to support the rear. A tidy recess in front provides maximum clearance from the front wheel, even allowing room for a 21” Woody’s Wheels conversion if desired. Both skid plates offer room for the 21” conversion although the Touratech plate offers a bit more clearance.

Black Dog Skid Plate
Black Dog’s skid plate offers a flat bottom design that extends past the catalytic converter.

Two brackets attach the Black Dog Ultimate skid plate. The front, made from 11-gauge, malleable steel, attaches to the sump with four original bolts. Where the Touratech skid plate stops below the clutch cover, allowing the extra front wheel clearance previously mentioned, Black Dog overlaps the chin area of the engine, providing extra protection. Two rubber bumpers prevent rearward forces from ramming the plate into the engine case. A tough, rubber “Shok-Blok” braces the front mount against the bottom of the engine, reducing the chance of sump damage. A simple rear mount bridges the frame cross tube and attaches with two stainless steel hose clamps. The clamps are only used to locate the mount, as all force is cupped in the two 1” cradles contacting the frame tube from below. As with the Touratech, the mounting system is designed to be a sacrificial element against repeated impacts. Black Dog also offers replacement parts for their skid plate…a nice touch by both manufacturers when a mount is bent but the skid plate is still serviceable.

Black Dog Skid Plate
Black Dog skid plate at work at Crossbar Ranch in Southern Oklahoma.

Longevity

After tens of thousands of miles off pavement with all iterations of the Black Dog skid plate, I have yet to experience any engine damage, although I’m aware that damage is still possible with the right strike or multiple strikes in a concentrated area. In my experience, the mounts have yielded gradually with repeated impacts but have never failed. The new design, which incorporates a more robust forward mount coupled with the Shok-Blok, should even further stave off a catastrophic event.

I tested the Touratech skid plate over some 6,000 miles of the American West, tackling mountain passes, desert washes and fast jeep roads. There were countless bangs, clangs and crashes as rocks were crushed beneath nearly 1000 lb. of man, gear and machine. Nothing failed and only a starboard header pipe was dinged above the tall reach of the forward wrap section of the RallyeForm plate.

Adventure Motorcycle skid plates
The Touratech plate remains solid but shows numerous dents after 6,000 miles of mostly off road work. After two years of hammering the early generation Black Dog skid plate (right) still holds its shape.

Upon removal I discovered a surprising degree of dents and deformation in the plate itself. Perhaps the forming process strengthens the material; however, several sharp, deep dents suggested that the metal still yields considerably to hard hits. This may be considered a fair sacrifice as long as deformation doesn’t prevent reinstallation in the field. It is conceivable however that with continued hard use, one would replace the RallyeForm sooner than the more robust Black Dog.

Serviceability

Adventure Motorcycle
Black Dog mounting hardware (left) vs. Touratech (right).

The Black Dog is easier to operate. I found it roughly 2/3 the effort to install by comparison for two reasons: There are only two mounts to the three on Touratech’s offering and only the rear mount must be indexed fore or aft to align with the holes in the Black Dog skid plate. All three mounts and the inner plate sandwiched between the skid plate and mounts must align for the RallyeForm to be installed. Four hefty bolts come out quickly to remove the Black Dog where six, smaller screws must be removed to perform service beneath the Touratech. And, Black Dog’s skid plate is completely flat on bottom. This feature makes using a scissor jack or similar device a cinch and it slips over terra firma like a greased eel too.

Coverage and Vulnerability

Touratech wraps farther up around the headers. Even so, I would recommend Touratech’s header guards on either skid plate to reduce the chance of an errant rock denting a header pipe as happened with mine. Touratech’s skid plate exposes five of its six Torx screw heads to potential dragging over rocks, a risk exacerbated by their position low in the indented portion of the plate where a rock might be forced while grinding across. Touratech’s thinner plating is not as resistant to bending as the thicker Black Dog material.

Appearance

It’s really a matter of taste. The RallyeForm skid plate looks good, almost aerodynamic although a bit more bulbous than the sleek, industrial design of the Black Dog. The shape is partly due to a more complete wrap around the header pipes and, of course, the hydroforming process facilitates limitless curves. It might even be described as muscular in appearance. It is typical of German engineering and manufacture. Efficient and brutishly stylish.

Adventure Motorcycle
Touratech’s skid plate has a streamlined, Art Deco sort of styling.
Black Dog Ultimate Skid Plate
Black Dog’s design is sleek, flat and angular.

The Black Dog also looks great in a “nothing fancy” kind of way…like a pretty, country girl at the city ball. Tough and capable but with a great smile. Its angular features look “shop-made,” which in fact it is. Black Dog products are made in America and they look the part. Welds are masterfully perfect and forming is understated.

Protection

Touratech’s RallyeForm skid plate does offer additional coverage around the header pipes, which are often impacted, but less around the clutch cover area where serious engine damage can potentially occur. It does not protect the chin area below the clutch cover as does the Black Dog, and its thinner material can bend more easily. My greatest concern regarding the Touratech is for the narrow clearance between the front of the skid plate and the bottom of the clutch cover. A sharp impact could drive the cover into the engine with potentially catastrophic results as there is sufficient flexibility in the mount to close that gap and more.

Touratech Rallyeform skid plate
Despite superior wrapping, the exhaust header still took dings. Auxillary guards are a good idea with either skid plate.

Final Thoughts

Which skid plate is best for you depends upon several factors. Both are priced almost equally. Appearance is important for many buyers but that is subjective. The Black Dog skid plate sports a design that’s been proven over time, while Touratech’s new RallyeForm skid plate has yet to show any real issues. Neither offers complete coverage but I do believe the Black Dog, with its thicker material and Shok-Blok supported mounting system, will yield less while still protecting the engine from localized impact transfer; hence it should last longer under the same abuse. That and the concern for the RallyeForm’s clearance at the engine chin area cause me to lean toward Black Dog for the most extreme conditions.

However, both are head and shoulders above the truckload of lesser products out there and offer exponentially more protection than the stock skid plate. I’ve not tested them all but I have shared my JB Weld with riders all over the American West and in South America who have wished they’d had either one tested here. In the end, as with boots, helmets, even the decision to ride a motorcycle, the risk is yours. Arm yourself and armor up.

Adventure Motorcycle skid plate

Pricing for the Touratech RallyeForm R1200GS skid plate is $439.95 in Bare Aluminum and $449.95 in Black. Black Dog’s Ultimate Skid Plate for the R1200GS is available for $445.00 in a powder coat finish. Both skid plates are available for other popular Adventure Bike models as well.

Shopping Options

Touratech RallyeFormBlack Dog Ultimate

Author: Bill Dragoo

The adventure lifestyle permeates all he does, providing grist for the writing mill. Bill owns and operates DART (Dragoo Adventure Rider Training), an Oklahoma based school for folks seeking to improve their off road skills, primarily on big motorcycles. He is a certified BMW Motorrad Off Road Instructor and actively writes for several adventure related magazines. His work expands to the four-wheel overlanding community as well, as he and his wife Susan explore Mexico and the American West in their fast and light travel vehicle dubbed the Tacoma GS after the Gelande Strasse (Land and Street) line of BMW motorcycles.

Author: Bill Dragoo
ADVERTISEMENT

Related Stories

Touratech RallyeForm: Form-Fitting & Full-Coverage Skid Plate

Touratech’s RallyeForm skid plate is unique in several ways, least of whi...

BMW F800GS Adventure Upper Crashbars

New Touratech BMW F800GS Adventure Upper Crash Bars

The BMW F800GS Adventure is an off-road capable Adventure Bike with excelle...

klr 650 crashbars

SW-Motech’s KLR 650 Crash Bars and Guards Review

People often praise the Kawasaki KLR 650 for being a versatile Adventure Bi...

Comments
 6

Leave a Reply

6 thoughts on “Skid Plate Skirmish: Touratech RallyeForm vs. Black Dog Ultimate

    • I noticed more resonance from the shift clunk on older oilhead BMWs with the Black Dog when first installed, but I soon forgot about it. I have not noticed that issue (if it can bve considered an issue) with either skidplate on the new LCs.

    • I haven’t noticed any increased noise on the LCs with either skidplate. The earlier oilheads were more clunky when shifting and I did notice more reflection of sound with the BDCW initially but it was soon forgotten.

  1. One of them is available from your local BMW dealer (Touratech), the other (BDCW) suspended sales to dealers a few months ago and is thus only available direct. Support your local dealer…